To Make Better Decisions Faster, Rethink Tools to Manage Work
by Katy Beloof
To stay competitive in today’s rapidly changing business world, companies need to make better decisions faster. To do so, senior business leaders must rethink how their teams get work done.
A recent study by 451 Research takes an in-depth look at the changing nature of work, the limits of traditional tools, and how business leaders can adapt going forward. It proposes a new paradigm for work management that gives businesses the ability to balance structure and flexibility to gain a competitive edge.
Complex, Strategic Work Has Become Everyone’s Job
Business leaders and their teams are taking on complex work in unprecedented ways. Work that used to fall to specialists, analysts, and process experts is being decentralized and becoming the responsibility of everyone on the team. Business leaders are having to learn how to help their teams manage strategic work processes to achieve business outcomes.
So what does this decentralization of complex and specialist work look like on the ground?
- Human resources teams creating more successful hiring strategies by weaving together candidate marketing, recruitment, and onboarding processes.
- Operations teams differentiating their product lifecycles by finding new ways to manage partners and inventory.
- Marketing teams growing the impact of new product launches by better managing collateral, events, and campaigns.
- Implementation teams increasing their work throughput and quality as they roll out a network of retail stores in a new market.
Complex work is being decentralized across all departments and industries. And these aren’t small, one-off projects. Nearly half (46%) of the business leaders surveyed reported that it’s standard for them to supervise more than 200 distinct stages of a given project, and 75% report that it’s typical for more than 100 people to be involved over the duration of a project.
Existing Tools Aren’t Enough
Despite these complex and highly collaborative projects, work is still fragmented across a variety of in-house and third-party tools. Fewer than half of business leaders feel that their primary work management tool provides for all of their teams’ work execution needs, and a majority them use multiple tools to manage work execution.
Senior business leaders need tools to more effectively manage the work their teams are taking on. This is no easy challenge. When asked about the work management tool their teams are using, 65% of senior business leaders say their tools are missing the mark, either because they lack the right level of control, or because they’re too difficult to use, or both.
The Right Balance Between Standardization and Flexibility
Traditional project or process management tools centralize and standardize work management, but can be difficult for those who aren’t trained as project managers. These tools also often lack the flexibility to support different workstyles and requirements.
With the decentralization of work, teams have the opportunity to develop highly configured work processes, using collaboration tools that are built for decentralized, tactical work. But these tools make it difficult for senior leadership to oversee the work that’s being done, and run the risk of creating organizational silos from other parts of the organization.
What most companies are lacking is a way to oversee work that enhances rather than impedes local execution. Teams need tools that they can easily configure around their specific work requirements.
At the same time, business leaders need those configurations to roll up with other different but related work processes into a unified, strategic view, so they can have the visibility they need into the work that’s happening across the business. To do this, work management tools need to enable the standardization of metadata across work processes into different categories that can be used to more easily design, monitor, and report on processes and outcomes.
Without standardization, business leaders have no reliable basis for monitoring and reporting, and companies risk fragmented work, diverging standards, lack of compliance, and a decrease in overall productivity.
A New Work Management Paradigm
This need to balance flexibility and standardization isn’t easily achieved. Work management tools haven’t traditionally enabled the agility of business teams while allowing for centralized oversight. While companies want a greater ability to customize work, project and process consistency remains critical, as does visibility into the work being done.
What companies need now are configurable tools that also serve as a tissue that connects these teams and provides consistency in how data across those different work processes is standardized.
To learn more about how your company can progress as the nature of work continues to change, download the full 451 Research® report The New Work Management System for the Digital Enterprise.